INDIGENOUS SEXUALITIES

Indigenous sexualities are important sites of resistance and resurgence. They resist heteronormative colonialism; they embody the possibility of radical resurgence. Indigenous sexualities matter beyond sexual politics because they expand the political imagination, not sexual vocabularies.

Manuela L. Picq, “Decolonizing Indigenous Sexualities: Between Erasure and Resurgence,” in The Oxford Handbook of Global LGBT and Sexual Diversity Politics, 2020, 182.

Introduction

Contemporary Indigenous peoples in Canada have their own ethics, cultures, histories, and politics as far as the concept of sexuality is concerned. Many of them struggle with the colonial legacies such as residential schools, which had a profound inter-generational impact on sexuality in Indigenous communities. Furthermore, Indigenous peoples face discrimination, homophobia, and misogyny, and suffer disproportionately higher rates of sexual abuse and sexually transmitted infections than other Canadians. Despite all of this, Indigenous peoples are in the process of reclaiming traditional understandings, practices, and teachings around sexuality, gender, and sexual relationships.

In this module, we will start off with important terminology when talking about Indigeneity and explore the notion of sexual colonization through perpetuating normative ideas about what is “proper” sexuality. Indeed, sexuality is not merely a personal choice, but is shaped by institutions and socio-cultural scripts. As you will encounter throughout this module, Indigenous sexualities, such as the concept of being Two-Spirit, are ways of destabilizing Western ideas of sexuality.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Recognize the relationship between sexual colonization and contemporary struggles faced by some Indigenous people in the realm of sexuality. 
  • Define the terms sovereign erotic and Indigenous eco-erotics. 
  • Describe what it means to decolonize sexuality and to say that sexuality is structured.

Moving Forward

Each module contains a big idea + lesson, assigned resources, and a summary page. Visit each section below by clicking or tapping the images.

BIG IDEAS +
LESSON

ASSIGNED RESOURCES

SUMMARY